In February of my freshman year at Grove City College, I had the opportunity to attend Startup Weekend Pittsburgh as part of one of my classes, Lean Launchpad. We were offered the option of attending and participating in Startup Weekend Pittsburgh as our midterm, or taking a formal exam. This is just one of the ways that experiential learning is given importance at the College.
Hesitantly, I signed up to attend the Startup Weekend. Up until that point in the school year most of the friends I had made were from my residence hall, and not my classes, so I was afraid that I would be a loner for much of the weekend. That concern was quelled very quickly, though. My professors had taken care of organizing rides from Grove City College to Pittsburgh (about an hour-long drive), and from the moment I greeted my classmates who I was driving with I felt like a part of the group.
Friday night, the first part of the event, was a flurry of excitement. We had the opportunity to network with other entrepreneurial minded people from the area, and those who wanted to were able to pitch their ideas to the entire crowd in the hopes that those would be the businesses we worked on all weekend. After the pitches we networked some more and voted on the best business ideas with post-it notes. Three of the teams chosen were pitched, and in turn led, by Grove City College students.
We spent Saturday working in various teams to do research and prepare a minimum viable product for presentation on Sunday evening. The weather proved to be an additional complication, in that a bad snowstorm hit Pittsburgh in the middle of Friday night and many of us were snowed-in at friends’ and family’s houses and could not get to the school where the program was held. We therefore had to work remotely. This taught me to be flexible and work with various groups remotely in order to complete tasks.
On Sunday we finished our products and prepared our final pitches, and then ate dinner while networking with people from the other teams. At the conclusion of the event, each team presented their businesses and awards were announced. Grove City College had quite a showing in the awards (check out the original press release to find out more about this).
I arrived back on campus on Sunday night refreshed and energized for Entrepreneurship. The weekend had taught me to put myself out there to learn new things, it taught me that Grove City College students look out for one another regardless of how close we are or where we are, it taught me to trust the experiences that my professors suggest. Since that point I have had countless opportunities similar to Startup Weekend, and have never regretted taking one of them. While I have learned so much in the classroom, it has been experiential activities like this one where I’ve learned the most about business, and luckily the Entrepreneurship Department at Grove City College provides experiences like Startup Weekend all of the time.